Welcome guest, is this your first visit? Create Account now to join.
  • Login:

Welcome to the Online Debate Network.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.

Page 6 of 6 FirstFirst ... 2 3 4 5 6
Results 101 to 119 of 119
  1. #101
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    1,053
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Dio wrote: 2.God has the moral authority to do whatever he wants.

    Clive responded: I don't agree with (2)
    I'm curious: What are the reasons that you (Clive and/or Apok) have for your disagreement with 2?


    Dio wrote: 3.and/or God has morally sufficient reasons for treating people in ways that might seem wrong, but really aren't, because we just don't understand.

    Clive responded: I also tend to agree with (3). If you accept the existence of God--an omnipotent, omniscient being who is wholly good--then it isn't arguing from ignorance to say that His actions are justified. It's more like trusting an expert. If you were blind, and a person you believed was not prone to lying and who you believed had excellent vision told you that the ball you were holding was blue, wouldn't you have good reason to think that the ball is blue? God is omniscient; it makes sense to defer to His judgement.
    Are there any actions that someone attributes to God or to God's desire that cannot be justified by this reasoning?

    Was the Holocaust perhaps a good thing after all and not the enormity that many of us believe it was? Could God have had a moral reason for allowing it to occur, a reason that mortals are simply incapable of understanding? Since it's obvious that he could have, could someone use this as justification for the Holocaust?
    Last edited by Rodriguez; November 12th, 2012 at 12:22 AM.

  2. #102
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Wheaton, IL
    Posts
    13,847
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    I'm curious: What are the reasons that you (Clive and/or Apok) have for your disagreement with 2?
    I think that 2 only works if you have the understanding that God only wants a particular set of things that are consistent with a wholly loving nature; it isn't that "Anything that God wanted, whether it would be consistent with His loving nature or otherwise, would be moral for God to do." 2 only works because of the particular ways in which God's wants, God's nature, and morality coincide. Without that background understanding, something like 2 could be very misleading.

    Are there any actions that someone attributes to God or to God's desire that cannot be justified by this reasoning?


    Sure. If someone claimed, for instance, that God had acted to oppose Christ's sacrifice because He didn't want humanity to be saved.

    Was the Holocaust perhaps a good thing after all and not the enormity that many of us believe it was? Could God have had a moral reason for allowing it to occur, a reason that mortals are simply incapable of understanding? Since it's obvious that he could have, could someone use this as justification for the Holocaust?


    This is essentially the problem of evil. Christian thinkers like Plantinga would probably say that we live in the best of all possible worlds worth actualizing, and that such a world could have people who exhibit transworld depravity (essentially, a person who in any possible world similar to ours chooses to do the wrong thing).

    So it isn't that God really wanted for our world to have the Holocaust. It's more like, the very best world worth actualizing possesses the Holocaust. It might have been even better if it didn't possess the Holocaust, but it would not be within God's power to actualize such a world if there is transworld depravity.

    Essentially, your question is why I'm not a Calvinist. If everything occurs, occurs by God's will, then the mere fact that I do something (whether it is sinful or not) means that it was God's will for me to do that. At least, that what Calvinism seems to me to entail. And I can't get behind that. I think that humans are individuals who are responsible for our own choices, and that our choices are made freely--not bent by their nature to God's will.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

  3. #103
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    I think what Rodriguez has pointed out is really at the heart of the issue for me with stories like Job. If the best possible world worth actualizing was the one where Job and his family were allowed --as permitted by God himself-- to be treated as they were, then I cannot see how you can separate the events within that world as good or bad. If that world was worth actualizing because it was the best of all possible worlds, then it would seem that everything actualized in that world is good in that:

    ~The world could not be actualized without all those events
    ~The world that was actualized WAS actualized to serve the ultimate greater good
    ~The greater good could not be actualized without the actualization of the best possible world

    So it goes back to the issue that emerged in my thinking before where there is no true "evil" in the best possible, actualized world, because everything in it not only serves the greater good, but is NECESSARY to serve the greater good.

    Also --and this is much harder but far more subtle-- it seems to me that one of the most important factors that sways people to favor this argument is their willingness to process it in an especially charitable way, and to ultimately and always defer to God's moral authority when the questions become impossible to answer. That is, anytime "X" appears to be unjust, immoral, etc. we have to simply accept that these things are not unjust, immoral, etc. because of God's plan, his knowledge, his authority etc.

    Of course I understand that I personally am not an expert in most things, and that I defer to subject matter expects on most things most of the time, and so I am sympathetic to the argument that says God is something like the ultimate subject matter expert in all things, and so I cannot trust myself when it comes to assessing these things. But (and I appreciate that comparing God to humans is equivocating; I only mean to explain my thinking here) even in matters that are far beyond my comprehension, I can object to or suspend my judgment on certain claims about the world.

    If, for example, a PHD level chemist claimed that, based on their knowledge of science and chemistry (which exponentially exceeds my own), water and fire are exactly the same thing, I would be skeptical of that claim; I would NOT say simply "Well, he knows way more about these things than I do, so I have to assume that he must be right". And I would be skeptical because in chemistry we know very well that they are not the same thing; there are definitions and standards and methods we apply for differentiating these things from one another, and so as far as we can tell, they are NOT the same thing. Moreover, there are certain axioms in science that we assume as a given which provide the confidence we rely on when assessing such claims. The issue can be practically resolved (fringe objectors notwithstanding, of course).

    With morality, even if we take theism out of it, there are certain moral axioms that we assume as a given which provide the confidence we rely on when assessing whether something is good, bad or morally neutral. And in any discussion of a moral dilemma, we defer to these axioms to reach something like an understanding on the matter. We even defer to subject matter experts and their views when thinking about these things. But with morality, and especially with theistic morality, there is a strange layer of protection that God seems to enjoy when scenarios are observed that --by any of the axioms we assume as a given in morality-- are plainly unjust, are plainly immoral, etc. There IS no satisfactory resolution in the matter because some people interpret the claims in their faith in a charitable way, and others do not. Likewise some defer to God's authority, knowledge, plan, etc. and others do not. Or, distilled even further, some have faith in the unknown, others do not.

    So given that the issue ultimately boils down to the question of faith, why ought people have faith in such matters? Why is faith a preferable position in such cases? How do we know when we're applying faith in the right way and not the wrong way (such as really believing that, for example, God told me to sacrifice my children)? Why should we employ the sort of faith it takes to simply accept that things like the Holocaust are GOOD and NECESSARY parts of God's plan, when we don't in other cases where what we know tells us plainly that water isn't the same thing as fire?

  4. Likes Rodriguez liked this post
  5. #104
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    1,053
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Clive
    I think that 2 only works if you have the understanding that God only wants a particular set of things that are consistent with a wholly loving nature;
    . . . according to whose definition of "wholly loving nature"?

    If God cannot do anything that is in violation of his own nature, then anything God does is morally justified by God's wholly loving nature. Anything. This would mean that if one of God's actions seem evil to you, it is only because you are incapable of understanding God's mind or his plan or because of some other failing of yours. This would mean that ANYTHING God does is moral no matter what any human being thinks about it. Right?

    Rodriguez asked: Are there any actions that someone attributes to God or to God's desire that cannot be justified by this reasoning?

    Clive answered: Sure. If someone claimed, for instance, that God had acted to oppose Christ's sacrifice because He didn't want humanity to be saved.
    I don't understand. You seem to be saying that if God had acted to oppose God's sacrifice because God didn't want humanity to be saved then . . . .

    But how could God want something and not want it at the same time?

    Maybe I should qualify my question by adding "logically possible" to "actions." My question then becomes "Are there any logically possible actions that someone might attribute to God or to God's desires that cannot be justified by your line of reasoning?"

    This is essentially the problem of evil. Christian thinkers like Plantinga would probably say that we live in the best of all possible worlds worth actualizing, and that such a world could have people who exhibit transworld depravity (essentially, a person who in any possible world similar to ours chooses to do the wrong thing).

    So it isn't that God really wanted for our world to have the Holocaust. It's more like, the very best world worth actualizing possesses the Holocaust. It might have been even better if it didn't possess the Holocaust, but it would not be within God's power to actualize such a world if there is transworld depravity.
    It's incorrect to say as you said that "it isn't that God really wanted for our world to have the Holocaust."

    The truth is, by that line of reasoning, God DID want the Holocaust to occur because by having the Holocaust with its millions and millions of brutal murders occur, He created the best possible world.

    This then, once again, is just another way of saying, God works in mysterious ways that, sometimes, are beyond human understanding.

    It's frustration with just that sort of reasoning that some atheists are so outspoken. No one should be able to justify the murder of six million people by claiming "The ways of our Lord are mysterious indeed!" And that is, more or less, what you and Plantinga are saying here.

  6. #105
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Wheaton, IL
    Posts
    13,847
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    . . . according to whose definition of "wholly loving nature"?

    If God cannot do anything that is in violation of his own nature, then anything God does is morally justified by God's wholly loving nature. Anything. This would mean that if one of God's actions seem evil to you, it is only because you are incapable of understanding God's mind or his plan or because of some other failing of yours. This would mean that ANYTHING God does is moral no matter what any human being thinks about it. Right?
    Right, but there are only certain things God would do. Suppose humans get to the point where they think that applying any amount of force to any other person is evil, regardless of consent. That wouldn't somehow render immoral Jesus, say, helping someone up off the ground. I already said all this.

    I don't understand. You seem to be saying that if God had acted to oppose God's sacrifice because God didn't want humanity to be saved then . . . .

    But how could God want something and not want it at the same time?

    Maybe I should qualify my question by adding "logically possible" to "actions." My question then becomes "Are there any logically possible actions that someone might attribute to God or to God's desires that cannot be justified by your line of reasoning?"
    Sorry, I should have said "God the father". Suppose someone claimed that God the Father acted to oppose the sacrifice of Jesus (they are different persons).

    But if that's too problematic for you, let me think of another example. Suppose someone claimed that the greatest expression of love is to kill anyone whose name will be "Jesus" before they are born. God, knowing who will be named "Jesus", is therefore obligated to perform such actions. This person, I think, would be wrong.

    It's incorrect to say as you said that "it isn't that God really wanted for our world to have the Holocaust."

    The truth is, by that line of reasoning, God DID want the Holocaust to occur because by having the Holocaust with its millions and millions of brutal murders occur, He created the best possible world.
    No, you're fiddling with what "want" means. Can God create a world that has things He doesn't want in it? I think so, since He can create someone with free will who doesn't do what He wants. If He only created people who did what He wants, then we wouldn't really have free will.

    This then, once again, is just another way of saying, God works in mysterious ways that, sometimes, are beyond human understanding.

    It's frustration with just that sort of reasoning that some atheists are so outspoken. No one should be able to justify the murder of six million people by claiming "The ways of our Lord are mysterious indeed!" And that is, more or less, what you and Plantinga are saying here.
    But that wouldn't justify the Holocaust. It might be that the best possible actualizable world would be even better if the Holocaust had not occurred--but that the free-willed individuals responsible for the Holocaust also went wrong with respect to the Holocaust in every other possible actualizable world. That doesn't mean that they had an obligation to do the Holocaust.

    The world isn't better than rival worlds because of the Holocaust. The world is better off than rival worlds despite the Holocaust.

    ---------- Post added at 02:24 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:10 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    I think what Rodriguez has pointed out is really at the heart of the issue for me with stories like Job. If the best possible world worth actualizing was the one where Job and his family were allowed --as permitted by God himself-- to be treated as they were, then I cannot see how you can separate the events within that world as good or bad. If that world was worth actualizing because it was the best of all possible worlds, then it would seem that everything actualized in that world is good in that:

    ~The world could not be actualized without all those events
    ~The world that was actualized WAS actualized to serve the ultimate greater good
    ~The greater good could not be actualized without the actualization of the best possible world

    So it goes back to the issue that emerged in my thinking before where there is no true "evil" in the best possible, actualized world, because everything in it not only serves the greater good, but is NECESSARY to serve the greater good.

    Also --and this is much harder but far more subtle-- it seems to me that one of the most important factors that sways people to favor this argument is their willingness to process it in an especially charitable way, and to ultimately and always defer to God's moral authority when the questions become impossible to answer. That is, anytime "X" appears to be unjust, immoral, etc. we have to simply accept that these things are not unjust, immoral, etc. because of God's plan, his knowledge, his authority etc.

    Of course I understand that I personally am not an expert in most things, and that I defer to subject matter expects on most things most of the time, and so I am sympathetic to the argument that says God is something like the ultimate subject matter expert in all things, and so I cannot trust myself when it comes to assessing these things. But (and I appreciate that comparing God to humans is equivocating; I only mean to explain my thinking here) even in matters that are far beyond my comprehension, I can object to or suspend my judgment on certain claims about the world.

    If, for example, a PHD level chemist claimed that, based on their knowledge of science and chemistry (which exponentially exceeds my own), water and fire are exactly the same thing, I would be skeptical of that claim; I would NOT say simply "Well, he knows way more about these things than I do, so I have to assume that he must be right". And I would be skeptical because in chemistry we know very well that they are not the same thing; there are definitions and standards and methods we apply for differentiating these things from one another, and so as far as we can tell, they are NOT the same thing. Moreover, there are certain axioms in science that we assume as a given which provide the confidence we rely on when assessing such claims. The issue can be practically resolved (fringe objectors notwithstanding, of course).

    With morality, even if we take theism out of it, there are certain moral axioms that we assume as a given which provide the confidence we rely on when assessing whether something is good, bad or morally neutral. And in any discussion of a moral dilemma, we defer to these axioms to reach something like an understanding on the matter. We even defer to subject matter experts and their views when thinking about these things. But with morality, and especially with theistic morality, there is a strange layer of protection that God seems to enjoy when scenarios are observed that --by any of the axioms we assume as a given in morality-- are plainly unjust, are plainly immoral, etc. There IS no satisfactory resolution in the matter because some people interpret the claims in their faith in a charitable way, and others do not. Likewise some defer to God's authority, knowledge, plan, etc. and others do not. Or, distilled even further, some have faith in the unknown, others do not.

    So given that the issue ultimately boils down to the question of faith, why ought people have faith in such matters? Why is faith a preferable position in such cases? How do we know when we're applying faith in the right way and not the wrong way (such as really believing that, for example, God told me to sacrifice my children)? Why should we employ the sort of faith it takes to simply accept that things like the Holocaust are GOOD and NECESSARY parts of God's plan, when we don't in other cases where what we know tells us plainly that water isn't the same thing as fire?
    Well, I don't accept that the Holocaust is a GOOD and NECESSARY part of God's plan. I think God had a different plan, and humans are capable of being such assholes that there weren't any worlds where we didn't do something like the Holocaust. Like I said before, your objection is the reason that I'm not a Calvinist (which claims that everything that occurs is essentially done only by God's will; I don't think that God could will for something like the Holocaust, or even for something like Adam and Eve sinning).

    Evaluating the morality of a particular action requires knowing a lot of variables--who is affected, what the kind and degree of the effects are, and most importantly how the action affects the future and what the future would have been like without this action. These are all things that are very difficult for us to assess.

    To me, it's more like when they rescued the Holocaust survivors at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, but had to restrict their diet instead of just giving them all the food they wanted because doctors knew that it could actually worsen their health to gorge instead of slowly doling out the food. If you were a Holocaust survivor, or if you were one of the guys handing out the food, it might seem incredibly wrong to withhold the food. You might object, and say "Well, they're hungry. Why can't I f*cking feed the hungry?"

    Or suppose someone you know was convicted of murder, and you didn't think he was capable of murder. You liked and respected this guy. Maybe he was your teacher, or some other kind of mentor or friend that you had great respect for. It might seem very wrong to execute this fellow (especially for interlocutors that oppose capital punishment), even if it was justified. You might weigh the evidence differently knowing the guy. You might discount evidence that goes against what you know about the guy--"He couldn't have locked up women and raped them, he's not that kind of guy."

    All of these results that go against your moral intuition might nevertheless be the morally good results. Saying that you object to something because it goes against your intuition or your sense of morality is a very weak objection, since you're a broken f*cked-up human and they tend not to know how to be moral or ethical.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

  7. Thanks Dionysus thanked for this post
  8. #106
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Well, I don't accept that the Holocaust is a GOOD and NECESSARY part of God's plan. I think God had a different plan, and humans are capable of being such assholes that there weren't any worlds where we didn't do something like the Holocaust. Like I said before, your objection is the reason that I'm not a Calvinist (which claims that everything that occurs is essentially done only by God's will; I don't think that God could will for something like the Holocaust, or even for something like Adam and Eve sinning).

    Evaluating the morality of a particular action requires knowing a lot of variables--who is affected, what the kind and degree of the effects are, and most importantly how the action affects the future and what the future would have been like without this action. These are all things that are very difficult for us to assess.

    To me, it's more like when they rescued the Holocaust survivors at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, but had to restrict their diet instead of just giving them all the food they wanted because doctors knew that it could actually worsen their health to gorge instead of slowly doling out the food. If you were a Holocaust survivor, or if you were one of the guys handing out the food, it might seem incredibly wrong to withhold the food. You might object, and say "Well, they're hungry. Why can't I f*cking feed the hungry?"

    Or suppose someone you know was convicted of murder, and you didn't think he was capable of murder. You liked and respected this guy. Maybe he was your teacher, or some other kind of mentor or friend that you had great respect for. It might seem very wrong to execute this fellow (especially for interlocutors that oppose capital punishment), even if it was justified. You might weigh the evidence differently knowing the guy. You might discount evidence that goes against what you know about the guy--"He couldn't have locked up women and raped them, he's not that kind of guy."

    All of these results that go against your moral intuition might nevertheless be the morally good results. Saying that you object to something because it goes against your intuition or your sense of morality is a very weak objection, since you're a broken f*cked-up human and they tend not to know how to be moral or ethical.
    I think I'm with you for the most part until your very last statement here. As you say, there can be variables in any given scenario where what seems immoral isn't actually unfair once you factor in the thing you don't know about. And it's precisely that ability to factor in new information that causes me to have a slight objection to "Saying that you object to something because it goes against your intuition or your sense of morality is a very weak objection". I disagree that it's a weak objection, because I take a weak objection to be an irrelevant objection, and I think the fact of our ability to incorporate new information into a state of affairs and go on to assess its moral value is quite relevant in the question at hand. The issue here, for me, is that the only new information being given is that 'God has information that we don't have'; it seems hugely presumptuous given the question, and takes us right back to the issue of thinking about the thing in a charitable or less-charitable way.

    The other objection I have has to do with actualizable worlds. I appreciate the difference between a world where the holocaust MUST happen vs. one where it CAN happen. If the best actualizable world is one where any state of affairs is possible (ones that are within the power of free-willed agents to bring about, of course), then any state of affairs is justifiable against the existence of an all-good God. What complicates matters is that there are instances in the Bible where God intervened and/or interacted with man to prevent this evil thing or that, so it means that there are at least some conditions that are necessary to the best actualizable world, or else God would not have acted to bring them about. Some of these make it very difficult to understand morality, God's part in it, etc (for example, the Holocaust did come about, but God sent bears to kill 42 kids for calling the prophet Elijah "bald head").

  9. #107
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Wheaton, IL
    Posts
    13,847
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    I think I'm with you for the most part until your very last statement here. As you say, there can be variables in any given scenario where what seems immoral isn't actually unfair once you factor in the thing you don't know about. And it's precisely that ability to factor in new information that causes me to have a slight objection to "Saying that you object to something because it goes against your intuition or your sense of morality is a very weak objection". I disagree that it's a weak objection, because I take a weak objection to be an irrelevant objection, and I think the fact of our ability to incorporate new information into a state of affairs and go on to assess its moral value is quite relevant in the question at hand. The issue here, for me, is that the only new information being given is that 'God has information that we don't have'; it seems hugely presumptuous given the question, and takes us right back to the issue of thinking about the thing in a charitable or less-charitable way.
    I guess I meant that it was "weak" in the following sense: the only times it helps you is when all the relevant variables you don't know (which is usually going to be a lot, since we're humans) don't have any meaningful impact on the question. That is, the only time your intuition helps is when the right answer lines up more-or-less with the intuitive answer. So unless you somehow know that your intuitive answer is almost always close to the right answer, it makes sense that there would be times when the right answer is quite far away from the intuitive one.

    The other objection I have has to do with actualizable worlds. I appreciate the difference between a world where the holocaust MUST happen vs. one where it CAN happen. If the best actualizable world is one where any state of affairs is possible (ones that are within the power of free-willed agents to bring about, of course), then any state of affairs is justifiable against the existence of an all-good God. What complicates matters is that there are instances in the Bible where God intervened and/or interacted with man to prevent this evil thing or that, so it means that there are at least some conditions that are necessary to the best actualizable world, or else God would not have acted to bring them about. Some of these make it very difficult to understand morality, God's part in it, etc (for example, the Holocaust did come about, but God sent bears to kill 42 kids for calling the prophet Elijah "bald head").
    Well, the conditions for God intervening are going to be difficult to get at, I think. Why does God intervene in one circumstance but not another? I tend to think it's essentially a utilitarian question, since God knows all the relevant factors relating to morality. Someone else would probably be better at explaining the Biblical account.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

  10. #108
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    I guess I meant that it was "weak" in the following sense: the only times it helps you is when all the relevant variables you don't know (which is usually going to be a lot, since we're humans) don't have any meaningful impact on the question. That is, the only time your intuition helps is when the right answer lines up more-or-less with the intuitive answer. So unless you somehow know that your intuitive answer is almost always close to the right answer, it makes sense that there would be times when the right answer is quite far away from the intuitive one.
    Yes, I can agree with this in principle. But as I say, we're not given an answer by which we can further assess things like the Holocaust as being... what? Good? Bad? I mean, when we consider your examples, you and I agree that not feeding Holocaust survivors only seemed bad, but in fact was good. And it was good precisely because of those details that we hypothetically didn't know about. We had something that seemed evil pending certain information, and once we got the information we realized that it was good.

    So, recall that my claim is that things like the Holocaust aren't evil, but rather, good things serving the greater good. Given that above we've justified the state of affairs above by information that showed the state of affairs was good, my claim that "there is no true "evil" in the best possible, actualized world, because everything in it [...] serves the greater good" still seems a valid claim. We're assuming that there must be conditions that make the Holocaust good, and presumably those conditions are the way it serves the greater good. Even if we put aside whether it was necessary (which I'm happy to do), it still seems like that justifying any state of affairs by virtue of serving a greater good dissolves any meaningful distinction between any actualized 'bad' or 'good' (else we would have expected God to intervene).

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Well, the conditions for God intervening are going to be difficult to get at, I think. Why does God intervene in one circumstance but not another? I tend to think it's essentially a utilitarian question, since God knows all the relevant factors relating to morality. Someone else would probably be better at explaining the Biblical account.
    I understand. I still think it goes right back to issue of whether or not the sort of faith that makes seemingly evil things actually good is a virtue.

  11. #109
    Registered User

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Manteca, CA
    Posts
    1,443
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Ok, so your position is that Christ's Golden Rule is antiquated and should not be followed anymore. I'm happy with that. In fact, my position has always been that the Bible is an antiquated work, almost entirely irrelevant to today's standards and to modern science, law and morality. It's had its day as a useful (in some regards) tool to a primitive tribal nation and now it's nothing but a relic. It seems that we may be on similar ground here.
    We are not at all on similar ground, apparently. In fact, I don't see where and why you've taken such a liberty as to say that that is my position. And furthermore it seems that you still don't quite understand what an anachronism is.

    What I had meant to express is that the Golden Rule cannot be taken as is, and then understood from a modern Western frame of reference. I had not at all meant to express that the Golden Rule, and it's meaning, is irrelevant to us. The philosophy of past peoples does not become irrelevant merely because we have to understand it's essential meaning in terms of culture and what we know of history. All I had expressed so far is that the method you had tried to use to come to terms with it was improper.

    The Golden Rule was quite useful for the people it was made for, and it can be useful today.

    At the same time, you haven't actually established that it was any more applicable back in "its day". Just how would that be? Just what would be wrong if the ancient Jews were to respect one another's differences and wishes? Just how was oneself a better point of reference back then than it is now?
    1. It was a reference to material from Leviticus, to the effect that people shouldn't think of others in impersonal terms. At that time, the predominant trend amongst people in that area was towards a dyadic personality. What this means, essentially, is that one's entire frame of reference in life was based entirely upon how they were viewed by the group. Honor and shame were the axioms of this system. There was no such thing as the concept of individualism. While it was of course still there on some level, such an idea as individualism has become today, if it were thrown at them wholesale, would have been considered shameful and impious. What the Golden Rule did was to turn people from objects into subjects, in how they considered one another. So much of the Law was couched with the expression "as you were once slaves in Egypt". The Golden Rule captures this concept, this premise that is basic to all of the Law, that people are not objects. That one ought to equate one's own frame of reference with another, in terms of how one is a subject.

    2. What kind of a question is that? Nothing would be wrong with that.

    3. The main point of the Golden Rule wasn't what point of reference was proper in order to decide what other people wanted. It was that "as you have needs and wants, so do they". It turned people from objects into subjects. They weren't expected to think along the logical consequences of the statement like you have. They were expected to understand the principle of the statement, how that they had been very impersonal and callous because of their culture, but God wanted empathy from them. It's the Golden Rule because empathy should be basic to all of our dealings with one another.
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
    Nahj ul-Balāgha by Ali bin Abu-Talib

  12. Likes Apokalupsis liked this post
  13. #110
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Wheaton, IL
    Posts
    13,847
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Yes, I can agree with this in principle. But as I say, we're not given an answer by which we can further assess things like the Holocaust as being... what? Good? Bad? I mean, when we consider your examples, you and I agree that not feeding Holocaust survivors only seemed bad, but in fact was good. And it was good precisely because of those details that we hypothetically didn't know about. We had something that seemed evil pending certain information, and once we got the information we realized that it was good.

    So, recall that my claim is that things like the Holocaust aren't evil, but rather, good things serving the greater good. Given that above we've justified the state of affairs above by information that showed the state of affairs was good, my claim that "there is no true "evil" in the best possible, actualized world, because everything in it [...] serves the greater good" still seems a valid claim. We're assuming that there must be conditions that make the Holocaust good, and presumably those conditions are the way it serves the greater good. Even if we put aside whether it was necessary (which I'm happy to do), it still seems like that justifying any state of affairs by virtue of serving a greater good dissolves any meaningful distinction between any actualized 'bad' or 'good' (else we would have expected God to intervene).
    I think I'd disagree. I think it might be that our world would have been even better off had the Holocaust not occurred (i.e. if humans had not chosen to do evil), but that God could not have prevented the Holocaust in our world without making our world 'not worth actualizing' (say, by violating free will or something of the like).
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

  14. #111
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    I think I'd disagree. I think it might be that our world would have been even better off had the Holocaust not occurred (i.e. if humans had not chosen to do evil), but that God could not have prevented the Holocaust in our world without making our world 'not worth actualizing' (say, by violating free will or something of the like).
    I think we're saying the same thing regarding worlds where the Holocaust is possible but may or may not have happened. But if we can suppose that greater good may have been compromised by God preventing actualization of the Holocaust by interfering with free will, why can we not also suppose that that greater good may have been compromised by God promoting the actualization of the Holocaust by interfering with free will?

    I guess what I'm getting at goes back to instances where God took direct actions or gave direct orders to affect certain outcomes. In those moments, we can be sure that at least those things were necessary to precisely the extent that God ensured they would happen. If we can agree on this, can we also agree that in every instance where God chooses to NOT take action, that he actually intends to NOT take action, just as he chooses TO take action on those instances where he does/did?

    And if we can agree on that much, can we not agree that, when he chooses to act or not to act, that he chooses to act or not to act based on the idea that the things he allows to take place, or prevents from taking place, are things that serve the greater good?

  15. #112
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Wheaton, IL
    Posts
    13,847
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    And if we can agree on that much, can we not agree that, when he chooses to act or not to act, that he chooses to act or not to act based on the idea that the things he allows to take place, or prevents from taking place, are things that serve the greater good?
    To me, that's like saying "Choose the most positive number from among {-1,000,-9,999,-10,000}. Oh, you chose -1,000? Then you chose it because it's positive."

    They don't "serve the greater good" except in the sense that they entail horrendous suffering to slightly fewer people or to a slightly lesser degree.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

  16. #113
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    To me, that's like saying "Choose the most positive number from among {-1,000,-9,999,-10,000}. Oh, you chose -1,000? Then you chose it because it's positive."

    They don't "serve the greater good" except in the sense that they entail horrendous suffering to slightly fewer people or to a slightly lesser degree.
    Why is my question similar to that from your point of view? Can you elaborate?

  17. #114
    Super Moderator

    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Louisiana
    Posts
    9,171
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    @Clive, I'll read your response to this with interest.

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    Why is my question similar to that from your point of view? Can you elaborate?
    If I may, and I would rather you respond to Clive then myself on this matter as I'm doing a bit of highjacking here.

    I think it is because the Christian view is that the entire point of our creation is for our reconciliation to God through Christ.
    Because wills independent of God will inherently come up with something other than the "ultimate good" and thus fall short(sin).
    While a world without any given negative(sinful) event is possible, it can't be judged as preferable if it results in less reconciliation.
    From there it can never be "Good" or "most moral" because that reconciliation is required to begin with means by definition that it isn't "moral".

    It is to say that God is dealing with sin, and to call sin "good" at any point becomes a nonsensical statement.

    To tie into the negative number example.
    To sin is a negative, and to call it "moral" is a positive. The entire world with free will inherently fall in the negative range. That God allows it to occur or deals with it, doesn't make it, itself a positive. So saying a negative event(holocaust) being justified because it causes the score of the whole to fall in a range closer to positive(more people reconciled), doesn't itself make the whole a positive (without need of reconciliation).

    ---
    O.k. I took my shot
    To serve man.

  18. #115
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    4,716
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    We are not at all on similar ground, apparently. In fact, I don't see where and why you've taken such a liberty as to say that that is my position. And furthermore it seems that you still don't quite understand what an anachronism is.
    Oh yes I do. Do you?


    What I had meant to express is that the Golden Rule cannot be taken as is, and then understood from a modern Western frame of reference. I had not at all meant to express that the Golden Rule, and it's meaning, is irrelevant to us. The philosophy of past peoples does not become irrelevant merely because we have to understand it's essential meaning in terms of culture and what we know of history. All I had expressed so far is that the method you had tried to use to come to terms with it was improper.
    Why? Why can't it be taken from the modern Western frame of reference? What is different between the western understanding and the ancient Jewish understanding that would invalidate my argument?


    1. It was a reference to material from Leviticus, to the effect that people shouldn't think of others in impersonal terms. At that time, the predominant trend amongst people in that area was towards a dyadic personality. What this means, essentially, is that one's entire frame of reference in life was based entirely upon how they were viewed by the group. Honor and shame were the axioms of this system. There was no such thing as the concept of individualism. While it was of course still there on some level, such an idea as individualism has become today, if it were thrown at them wholesale, would have been considered shameful and impious. What the Golden Rule did was to turn people from objects into subjects, in how they considered one another. So much of the Law was couched with the expression "as you were once slaves in Egypt". The Golden Rule captures this concept, this premise that is basic to all of the Law, that people are not objects. That one ought to equate one's own frame of reference with another, in terms of how one is a subject.
    If that's the case, a proper formulation of the Rule would be "the whole principle of the Law is that people are not objects; everyne has needs and those needs must be respected". And that's a far cry from saying "do to others what you want done to you". What you are doing is highlighting Christ's failure to meaningfully formulate the Golden Rule. We can see the consequences of that in the way that Christ's own believers interpret the Golden Rule. And I'm not just talking your average Joe; I'm talking people who are very much familiar with the cultural and historical contexts involved; I'm talking Christians who have studied and carefully considered the Bible.

    2. What kind of a question is that? Nothing would be wrong with that.
    I see. Except that's not what Jesus intended, in your view. He didn't intend to formulate a practical and meaningful rule at all; all he wanted to say was that people are not objects. Well, fine. You are free to interpret the Rule this way. You will be in a definite minority, even amongst Christians. But that's not important. What's important is that Christ has failed to formulate it in that way, as outlined in the paragraph above.

    3. The main point of the Golden Rule wasn't what point of reference was proper in order to decide what other people wanted. It was that "as you have needs and wants, so do they". It turned people from objects into subjects. They weren't expected to think along the logical consequences of the statement like you have. They were expected to understand the principle of the statement, how that they had been very impersonal and callous because of their culture, but God wanted empathy from them. It's the Golden Rule because empathy should be basic to all of our dealings with one another.
    I see. Christ didn't expect people to think logically. And what can we say for a philosopher (omniscience aside) who doesn't expect his followers to think logically?

    The fact of the matter is that people do think logically (isn't it just embarrassingly silly for Jesus to expect them not to?) and the ancient Jews were no different. If empathy is the main point here, a meaningful way to put it (without confusing those of us who dare to think logically) would be to say "you are not objects, you are subjects, everyone likes to be treated with respect, hence treat others with respect". But that's not what Christ said. Sometimes, it's way better just to say what you mean. Christ failed to do that and what we see is the inevitable confusion resulting.
    Last edited by Allocutus; November 16th, 2012 at 06:16 PM.
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

    "If you could rationalize with Religious people there would be no more Religious people" -Gregory House

  19. #116
    Registered User

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Manteca, CA
    Posts
    1,443
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Oh yes I do. Do you?
    Yes. And I didn't mean to imply that I believe with a certainty that you don't understand the idea of an anachronism. You have probably noticed by now that I am more of a literal type, and by "it seems" I meant that so far as I know you don't appear to understand the idea of an anachronism. What it is, of course, is a projection of the modern frame of reference into a different context, which results in not being able to come to terms with foreign material fairly.

    Why? Why can't it be taken from the modern Western frame of reference? What is different between the western understanding and the ancient Jewish understanding that would invalidate my argument?
    What is different about your frame of reference, is that we interpret things in a highly literal and utilitarian manner, when compared to ancient Hebrew people who shared topical familiarity and focused more on references, phrasing, and key elements, than strictly literal understandings which take the letter of the text and work out logical consequences. Westerners will look for comprehensiveness in a statement and it's immediate context alone, when that wasn't required for the people who heard the Golden Rule firsthand.

    If that's the case, a proper formulation of the Rule would be "the whole principle of the Law is that people are not objects; everyne has needs and those needs must be respected". And that's a far cry from saying "do to others what you want done to you". What you are doing is highlighting Christ's failure to meaningfully formulate the Golden Rule. We can see the consequences of that in the way that Christ's own believers interpret the Golden Rule. And I'm not just talking your average Joe; I'm talking people who are very much familiar with the cultural and historical contexts involved; I'm talking Christians who have studied and carefully considered the Bible.
    Yes, that might be a more proper formulation for you and I. But that isn't what I'm getting at, is it? And that people have been mistaken throughout time does not mean that it wasn't useful for the people it was said to. Jesus came first to the Jews, before His gospel came to the Gentiles. What do you think that means? I think part of what it implies is that what He did and said was intended to be understood by Jews. His work was originally for their consumption.

    I see. Except that's not what Jesus intended, in your view. He didn't intend to formulate a practical and meaningful rule at all; all he wanted to say was that people are not objects. Well, fine. You are free to interpret the Rule this way. You will be in a definite minority, even amongst Christians. But that's not important. What's important is that Christ has failed to formulate it in that way, as outlined in the paragraph above.
    What He said was plenty practical. It simply isn't as practical for you because you haven't used it from a base of knowledge, as opposed to it being a base of knowledge. That they got how that He was commenting on their callousness was meaningful for them.

    I see. Christ didn't expect people to think logically. And what can we say for a philosopher (omniscience aside) who doesn't expect his followers to think logically?

    The fact of the matter is that people do think logically (isn't it just embarrassingly silly for Jesus to expect them not to?) and the ancient Jews were no different. If empathy is the main point here, a meaningful way to put it (without confusing those of us who dare to think logically) would be to say "you are not objects, you are subjects, everyone likes to be treated with respect, hence treat others with respect". But that's not what Christ said. Sometimes, it's way better just to say what you mean. Christ failed to do that and what we see is the inevitable confusion resulting.
    Christ was expecting different logic than yours. He wasn't expecting the grammar and vocabulary police, that interprets things literally and then tries to break everything down to syllogisms, like our modern Western philosophy is. He expected thematic logic, which focused more on trends than particulars. Thematic logic is not necessarily irrational. It has more modest goals, and can actually have more utility ultimately, than our quest for syllogisms.
    Last edited by Lukecash12; November 16th, 2012 at 08:26 PM.
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
    Nahj ul-Balāgha by Ali bin Abu-Talib

  20. Likes Apokalupsis liked this post
  21. #117
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Wheaton, IL
    Posts
    13,847
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Why is my question similar to that from your point of view? Can you elaborate?
    If I asked you, "Should I murder this baby? Or just punch it in the face?" You might say, "Well, you shouldn't do either. But if you have to do one, punching the baby in the face is 'better' than murdering it." To which I say, "Wait, you're saying that me punching a baby in the face serves the greater good?"
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

  22. Likes MindTrap028, Apokalupsis liked this post
  23. #118
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    4,716
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    Yes. And I didn't mean to imply that I believe with a certainty that you don't understand the idea of an anachronism. You have probably noticed by now that I am more of a literal type, and by "it seems" I meant that so far as I know you don't appear to understand the idea of an anachronism. What it is, of course, is a projection of the modern frame of reference into a different context, which results in not being able to come to terms with foreign material fairly.



    What is different about your frame of reference, is that we interpret things in a highly literal and utilitarian manner, when compared to ancient Hebrew people who shared topical familiarity and focused more on references, phrasing, and key elements, than strictly literal understandings which take the letter of the text and work out logical consequences. Westerners will look for comprehensiveness in a statement and it's immediate context alone, when that wasn't required for the people who heard the Golden Rule firsthand.



    Yes, that might be a more proper formulation for you and I. But that isn't what I'm getting at, is it? And that people have been mistaken throughout time does not mean that it wasn't useful for the people it was said to. Jesus came first to the Jews, before His gospel came to the Gentiles. What do you think that means? I think part of what it implies is that what He did and said was intended to be understood by Jews. His work was originally for their consumption.



    What He said was plenty practical. It simply isn't as practical for you because you haven't used it from a base of knowledge, as opposed to it being a base of knowledge. That they got how that He was commenting on their callousness was meaningful for them.



    Christ was expecting different logic than yours. He wasn't expecting the grammar and vocabulary police, that interprets things literally and then tries to break everything down to syllogisms, like our modern Western philosophy is. He expected thematic logic, which focused more on trends than particulars. Thematic logic is not necessarily irrational. It has more modest goals, and can actually have more utility ultimately, than our quest for syllogisms.
    Do you have any support for your notion that the Jews didn't think via a logical process or weren't able to understand a literal and direct command?
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

    "If you could rationalize with Religious people there would be no more Religious people" -Gregory House

  24. #119
    Registered User

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Manteca, CA
    Posts
    1,443
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Jesus and his failure to formulate a useful Golden Rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Do you have any support for your notion that the Jews didn't think via a logical process or weren't able to understand a literal and direct command?
    1. It wasn't illogical. I'm not going to support that they didn't think via a logical process because they did. And because you are charging me to support something that anyone should realize from reading my posts here that I wouldn't support, my confidence in your level of honesty is shaken. But I suspend any type of judgment.

    2. For starters, you can see in Richard Rohrbaugh's "The New Testament in Cross-Cultural Perspective", how that Israel was pre-industrial, mostly illiterate, ruled by the dyadic personality type, and how that their discussion and thought about the scriptures was primarily topical. It's a great book for people who are just starting to familiarize themselves with Hebrew culture.

    3. I'd appreciate it if you actually addressed all of my points, instead of throwing this straw man at me in what amounts to a summary dismissal?
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
    Nahj ul-Balāgha by Ali bin Abu-Talib

 

 
Page 6 of 6 FirstFirst ... 2 3 4 5 6

Similar Threads

  1. The golden throne
    By theophilus in forum Jokes and Humor
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: September 3rd, 2010, 09:08 AM
  2. "Homegrown" Player Rule - A ridiculous rule
    By thegreenape in forum General Debate
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: September 2nd, 2010, 10:38 AM
  3. The Golden Compass
    By ladyphoenix in forum Book Club Discussion
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: April 5th, 2008, 11:04 AM
  4. The Golden Compass
    By starcreator in forum Entertainment
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: December 13th, 2007, 05:16 AM
  5. The Wiccan Rede vs. The Golden Rule
    By Trendem in forum Philosophical Debates
    Replies: 47
    Last Post: February 12th, 2007, 12:21 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •